Media Center

2022 and Beyond

With a difficult past two years, we began 2022 cautiously optimistic while recognizing the many battles that still lie ahead. While the pandemic is still impacting our communities, our members continue to be frontline heroes putting their lives on the line to keep their communities moving. 

We can’t let up our fight. 

With historic levels of COVID relief funding for public transit in the U.S. being distributed that we helped secure, our transit systems can be modernized and revitalized, and our members’ jobs secured. Our employers no longer have excuses to give us “zeroes” at the bargaining table while they continue to call us “heroes” in public. In Canada, we continue to fight for dedicated operational transit funding to keep our members employed and public transit accessible, affordable, and reliable for our riders.

 

Elections Matter  

This year we have crucial elections coming up in both the U.S. and Canada that will make history. In Ontario, there are critical provincial elections in June and municipal elections in October, including a campaign to remove anti-worker, anti-transit, pro-privatization Premier Doug Ford from office. 

In the U.S., the outcome of the mid-term elections in November will determine who controls both chambers of Congress and what kind of agenda President Biden and Congress can pass on behalf of workers. 

We need to endorse early, as we did with President Biden, so we’re at the table. We also need to get our members involved early to elect candidates who understand the immense contributions and sacrifices of transit workers. For the elections this year, we’ll be using whatever we have in our toolbox, including member-to-member mobilization, mailers, text messaging, digital ads, door-knocking, and other tactics to win. 

We need to be ready to help protect our democracy by getting out the vote and letting our voices be heard. There are more of us than them, and I’m confident that united, we will defeat the anti-worker forces acting against us. 

 

Convention 2022 

Democracy is not new to unions. For the 60th time in our history, ATU members from across the U.S. and Canada will convene for our International Convention to write our Union’s next chapter to build on the successes of the past and march courageously into the future. 

This is a crucial time in our Union’s history. Since the last convention, ATU has faced the biggest health crisis we’ve seen in our lifetimes, losing hundreds of members to COVID. We have led a relentless campaign to call attention to the issues of frontline workers to help protect our members and their jobs as we continue into the second year of the pandemic. 

Over the past three years, we have continued to wage aggressive contract campaigns, some that resulted in workers bravely going on strike. We were on the picket line for 84 days at the Cinder Bed Bus Garage, where we won a just contract and fought back against privatization. In Martha’s Vineyard, our members stood strong on strike for nearly a month to expose the inequities on an island known for its rich and famous.

We’ve also had tremendous organizing wins in Hartford, CT, Milton, ON, Oceanside, CA, Ottawa, ON, and many other places. One silver lining from the pandemic, is that workers have recognized the need for union representation now more than ever, and they continue to mobilize for a better life through their Union. From hazard pay to safety measures to fighting layoffs to strong contracts, transit workers know the strength that the ATU has to protect them on the job. 

We’ve trained thousands of members who have taken part in our innovative ATU training programs for leaders and members. Despite the pandemic, training has moved online, and members continue to learn new strategies to empower others to get involved and make our Locals stronger. This training will continue and expand in the new year. These programs are a vital step in engaging our membership and galvanizing our riders into a powerful political force that will impact crucial local and national campaigns. 

As the COVID pandemic made clear, our members work extremely difficult and often dangerous jobs with little or no support from employers. Our Locals stood up and fought back to win common-sense protections through active campaigns and strong safety committees. We will be launching a new initiative to assist our Local Unions to develop or expand their health and safety committees, programs, and plans to ensure our members’ safety and health on and off the job.

The ATU also continues to lead the way with apprenticeship programs in the transit industry, including our Zero Emission Bus (ZEB’s) programs. We have advocated for and won a National Transit Workforce Center in the U.S. for frontline employees, which you’ll learn more about in our legislative column, and other initiatives to ensure that our members are trained for the jobs of today and the future. 

We’ve called attention to the mental health crisis in our workplaces in a very real way. We’re changing policies that can ensure healthier work environments and transform organizational cultures into ones that guarantee dignity and respect for all workers. We shouldn’t need tragedies to occur to have these conversations. 

A lot has happened over the past three years, and this only begins to tell the story of all the hard work that went into the ATU becoming the resilient and powerful Union that we are today. If we continue to stand together in solidarity, refusing to give up, anything is possible. Here’s to 2022 and beyond.